Trump Beat ‘Norms and Conventions’ That Caused ‘Fix We’re In’

White House chief of staff, others reflect on president's unconventional leadership and 'view of what's better for America'

President Donald Trump “seldom asks” how other presidents approached decision-making because he campaigned against the typical “norms and conventions” with “a view of what’s better for America.” That was the perspective offered Sunday by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to The New York Times.

More than a year after Trump won on Election Day, Kelly said the president remains “fairly unconventional” in approaching his national leadership role, while championing his campaign promises. Although Trump has faced opposition from nearly every side, Kelly said he is comfortable with bucking the status quo.

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“The norms and conventions are exactly what he ran against and, in his view, are why we’re in the fix we’re in,” Kelly said. “He doesn’t intentionally make decisions that are opposite, say, of what a previous president would make. He’s got a view of what’s better for America.”

Noting that he wasn’t “put on Earth to control” Trump as the chief of staff, Kelly emphasized the president makes his own decisions after being “fully briefed on the issues and the pluses and minuses, pros and cons.”

“But I have been put on Earth to make this staff work better and make sure this president, whether you voted for him or not, is fully informed before he makes a decision. And I think we achieved that,” Kelly said. “He very seldom asks how other presidents did this.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also testified to Trump’s unconventionality and dogged adherence to his conservative populist agenda during an interview Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

“Well, the American people spoke. They rejected my analysis, and he is now my president,” Graham said. “The bottom line: He is president of the United States.”

Related: Why ‘Fake News’ and Immigration Were Among 2017’s Biggest Political Stories

Graham, a former presidential rival and frequent critic of Trump’s, noted he has “gotten to know him better” throughout the first year of this presidency and now admires his foreign-policy decisions.

“He asks a lot of good questions,” Graham said of Trump. “I want to help him where I can because there’s a lot on this man’s plate, and we should all want to help him.”

Retired Adm. Mike Mullen also noted Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week” that the president has “been incredibly disruptive with respect to the institutions, the commitments, the leadership, where we have been for the last 70 years.”

“And I think a big question for us as the American people is whether we continue to support those institutions and all they represent in a world that is pretty chaotic,” Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told ABC News journalist Martha Raddatz. “And that becomes a fundamental question.”

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected].